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Do you believe that strong plants attract fewer pests than weak and struggling plants?

FireFire Posts: 17,116
edited June 2021 in Tools and techniques
It seems to be a commonly accepted idea in gardening that we ward of pests like slugs or aphids by making the plant heathier. For example, that, like for like, a strong, healthy rose will have fewer aphids than a weak one; or a stronger broad bean plant will not attract blackfly.

Do you believe that strong plants attract fewer pests than weak and struggling plants? 39 votes

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  • Butterfly66Butterfly66 Posts: 883
    Its logical that weaker plants are more susceptible to diseases and stress, just like we are but don’t see why they would not attract pests. They can maybe better tolerate the damage but how can health make them repellant or less attractive to eat?
     If you have a garden and a library, you have everything you need.”—Marcus Tullius Cicero
    East facing, top of a hill clay-loam, cultivated for centuries (7 years by me). Birmingham
  • Perhaps it is the other way round - they are weak because they have a lot of pests.
  • Hostafan1Hostafan1 Posts: 34,049
    I can't see greenfly settling on a weak plant then there's a lovely juicy specimen next to it.
    Another thing, oft repeated by MD, which I think has no basis in fact
  • yes
    On the whole I think healthy plants have a better chance to shrug off pest damage - logical I suppose but equally I don't think pests in general choose unhealthy plants as a preference.
  • TopbirdTopbird Posts: 7,882
    Ditto what Hosta said. 

    I think pest damage is probably more noticeable on a weaker plant and I do think they are more prone to disease and fungal attack - but, if anything, they are probably less likely to be targeted by pests.
    Heaven is ... sitting in the garden with a G&T and a cat while watching the sun go down
  • raisingirlraisingirl Posts: 6,641
    It's not been my experience, generally. As Topbird said, diseases yes, but pests, not necessarily. Slugs and rabbits and mice don't appear to discriminate in my garden. I think MD often talks about hostas being less slugged if they are growing well. IME that's not true, but a bigger plant can spare a few more leaves before it becomes noticeable. All of them get eaten when the weather is on the slugs' side
    “Light thinks it travels faster than anything but it is wrong. No matter how fast light travels, it finds the darkness has always got there first” 
  • CharlotteFCharlotteF Posts: 337
    It does seem to be the case for aphids in my garden (I think sturdier stems are maybe harder for them to suck?) but slugs and snails ravage even my healthy plants so I'm not convinced that it follows for everything!
  • FireFire Posts: 17,116
    edited June 2021
    Roses are an interesting case. Fungal diseases like blackspot don't seem to hit weaker plants worse - it's seems more a case of which variety of rose and the geography. Also with aphids, I have healthy roses covered in blooms but also some years they are crusted by aphids. Nothing that I can see suggests the plants are weak or unhappy. Sawfly does not seem to distinguish, and seem to want to demolish anything in their path.

    I can imagine that pests can get a real foothold in a weak tree and take ever more advantage of its now available resources as it fails, more and more insects, fungi would setting up home.

  • _Nicolas__Nicolas_ Posts: 48
    The exception is slugs, they attack both healthy and unhealthy plants about the same, in fact at times they seem to target healthy plants over unhealthy ones!
  • LoxleyLoxley Posts: 5,228
    No. I think it's more that weaker plants are more susceptible to being affected by pests, rather than attracting more of them per se.
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